Turkish sportswomen's internationals dominate sports

HAKAN BAŞ @hakanbash
ISTANBUL
Published
Turkish sportswomen's internationals dominate sports

While Turkish women's volleyballers won the gold in the European Games, Turkish sportswomen have made their mark in the last 10 years on Turkey's sports achievements

Turkey has taken pride for the last 10 years in the international successes of its sportswomen. Adding to this, Turkey's women's volleyball team won the gold by defeating Poland 3-0 in the final of the 2015 European Games held in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Saturday. After a match for the bronze in which Serbia beat Azerbaijan 3-2, Turkey met Poland in the final. Turkey were in front after the first set, 25-11, and managed to secure their lead in the second set thanks to effective play in defense, 25-19. Nicknamed "The Sultans of the Net," Turkey maintained its influential performance in the third set and won 25-13 to win the gold at 3-0. It is the sixth gold medal for Turkey in the European Games so far.

Elsewhere, Turkey's Senior Women's National Team defeated Russia 68-66 in overtime in Budapest, Hungary, on Saturday, finishing the EuroBasket Women 2015 in fifth place and securing a spot in the 2016 International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women for the second consecutive Olympic cycle. The qualifying tournament will take place next summer at a location yet to be determined. "I congratulate the Women's National Team and Head Coach Ekrem Memnun on this great accomplishment," Turkish Basketball Federation President Harun Erdenay said, adding, "Our goal is to return to the Olympics, and with this impressive win, that goal is very much within reach."

Turkish sportswomen have bested their opposite sex counterparts over the past 10 years. They represent Turkey better in international tournaments both in individual and team categories as well. For the first time in history, Turkey was represented by more female athletes than male ones in the 2012 London Olympics. Of the 114 sportsmen and sportswomen from Turkey, 66 of them were female athletes, 48 of them male athletes. Turkish sportswomen have been dominating in team sport events as well. Turkey was unable to participate in Olympic team sport competitions for 52 years, but this was ended by the women's volleyball and basketball teams. The women's basketball team even managed to rank fifth in the London Olympics.

Furthermore, Turkey was represented for the first time in various sporting events by female athletes, such as Neslihan Yiğit in badminton and Melek Hu in table tennis. In the Paralympics too, Turkey was represented for the first time by female athletes, such as Neslihan Kavas in table tennis, Duygu Çete in judo and Gizem Girişmen, Gülbin Su, Hanife Şaban and Özgür Özen in archery at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Turkish sportswomen won three gold, 10 silver and four bronze medals in total while competing in the Paralympics and Olympics.

Hülya Şenyurt won the first gold medal in judo for Turkey in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Neslihan Kavas and Gizem Girişmen were also the first Turkish sportswomen to win gold medals in the Paralympics. In the 2012 London Paralympic Games, female athletes won seven of the 10 medals on Turkey's behalf. Turkish teams have achieved great success in volleyball in particular. In CEV, the number one women's volleyball organization in Europe, Turkish teams gained have succeeded in the last six seasons. At least one Turkish team managed to advance to each season's Final Four, and Turkish women's teams won three titles of the last four seasons. VakıfBank finished the 2010-2011 and 2012-2013 seasons on top, while Fenerbahçe repeated the same success in 2011-2012. The Fenerbahçe and VakıfBank teams also managed to win the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship title. Moreover, the Turkish women's volleyball team won the silver medal in the European Volleyball Championship in 2003 and the bronze medal in 2012. They also won a bronze medal in the FIVB World Grand Prix finals in 2012.

In the FIBA Europe League, which is the most important cup in European women's basketball, Turkish teams also experienced a breakout. During the 2013-2014 season, Istanbul sides Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe faced each other where Galatasaray won the title in the historic match. Turkish sportswomen won medals in the last two European Basketball Championships as well, and the Turkish women's team ranked fourth in the FIBA World Basketball Championship, which was held in Turkey.

Additionally, Tuğba Karademir broke ground in Turkey's sports history in ice skating, representing Turkey at the 2006 Toronto Winter Olympics and the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, while Şahika Ercümen broke records in free diving. Ercümen is the world record holder of the constant weight with fins (at sea) discipline with 70 meters set in Dahab, Egypt, on Nov. 10, 2011. On the same day at the same place, she set another world record diving 60 meters deep in variable weight apnea without fins (at sea). On June 1, 2013, she broke her own world record diving in variable weight apnea without fins (at sea) to a depth of 61 meters in the saline soda waters of eastern Turkey's Lake Van.

International female tennis player İpek Soylu has won seven singles and eight doubles titles on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) tour during her career. On April 13, 2015, she reached her best singles world ranking at 251st place. On May 25, 2015, she peaked in 220th place in the doubles rankings. In 2014, she won the U.S. Open girls' doubles title with Spanish-Swiss Jil Teichmann.

In wrestling, which is commonly thought of as a men's sport, Turkish female wrestler Elif Jale Yeşilırmak also broke ground. She became the first female wrestler who represented Turkey in the Olympics. She won the bronze medal in the 63 kilogram division at the 2012 European Wrestling Championships held in Belgrade, Serbia, and won the gold medal in the 67 kilogram division at the 2013 Mediterranean Games held in the southern Turkish city of Mersin.

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